Sunday, March 03, 2013

Latest 1,850pt Ravenwing Dark Angels List

I've been toying around with a few things since I first put a list together. What I have now is a streamlined and deadly list that should be pretty effective. I'm still not doing great with the painting but hopefully that'll pick up over the next couple of weeks. Here's what I'm playing with at the moment followed by some detailed analysis of the lot:

1,847pts of Dark Angels
Librarian (bike, ML2)
RW Command Squad (Std of Dev, RWGL, Apothecary, Champion)

Tactical Squad (plasma gun, plasma cannon, veteran sergeant)
RW Attack Squadron (6 bikes, melta, plasma)
RW Attack Squadron (6 bikes, melta, plasma)
RW Attack Squadron (6 bikes, melta)

RW Black Knights (6 bikes, 2 RWGL)
RW Black Knights (6 bikes, 2 RWGL)
RW Darkshroud

Very similar to what I had before. The main difference here is the doubling up of the Black Knights. I'm still a massive fan of these guys as they're extremely versatile and can be deadly against the right opponents. Previously I had Sammael joining the RW command squad to keep them alive but I'm now playing it with Sammael and the Libby taking a pack of Knights each. This gives me two devastating units. Both having skilled rider is nice so that you can move them through terrain without worrying. There aren't many units that wouldn't worry about these guys. Both units are difficult to ignore and should hopefully distract attention away from the bulk of the army which is churning out salvo shots.

The librarian has ditched his over upgrades in favour of mastery level 2. This gives me access to the Telepathy powers which need 2 warp charge to activate. If I get a good roll they can get Hallucination or Invisibility, both of which are awesome. The primaris power, psychic shriek, isn't too bad either, if a little situational. Having him around for challenges is decent too if he can make use of his force weapon.

Both the command squad and the darkshroud are the obvious targets for my opponents but can be pretty tricky to kill. Getting first turn is pretty essential and its a shame there's no characters with roll manipulation (e.g. +1 or re-roll). Should I go first, the whole of my army can move. This gives my normal bikes a 3+/4++ whilst still firing off there ridiculous amounts of bolter shots. The black knights get 3+/3++ as they'll likely turbo-boost turn 1 to get into effective range nice and early.

The command squad can get 3+/2++ thanks to the Darkshroud. They get a 5++ jink which is made 4++ by turbo-boosting, 3++ from skilled rider and then Stealth makes it 2++. That's ignoring the FNP from the Apothecary too! This makes both units pretty tricky to take down and either my opponent will expend plenty of shots trying or else ignore them and shoot my bikes instead. Later on the command squad can be firing off the plasma and grenade launcher and still claiming 3+/3++.

The tactical squad might seem a bit useless but I'm working on the principle that they'll get ignored whilst they hug and objective and fire away with the plasma cannon. The same points could be spent on more bikes but frankly I don't have any and I'm loathe to buy any more. It becomes difficult to get them all in range of the shroud/banner too. I'm not going to pretend the tacticals are a great choice but as I say, if my opponent is shooting them then I'm pretty happy or I'm already screwed.

I had thought about making the attack squadrons with 2 meltas in one and 2 plasmas in the other. The problem I have with that is that if I meet high armour values e.g. land raiders then all my eggs are in one basket. The issue I have is in deciding when to fire the bolters and when to fire the special weapons when firing at infantry. It's pretty much always better to fire them over the melta but at half range the plasma gun is better against some targets. Essentially if the target is getting a 4+ or better cover/invuln save then the bolters are a better option than a 2 shot plasma. Most of the time I'll hopefully be at above 12" range so I'm going with bolters for the most part.

I find it tricky to deploy everything in a nice blob around the banner/shroud but it's easy to forget you can move the whole lot 12" pretty easily. Terrain is an issue most of the time but it can be avoided. If anything you want to pick the side of the board with little terrain to make your life easier!

Possible Changes
I'd considered taking out all of the special weapons as I'm mostly using the bolter banner but if I come up against mechanised armies then I'll struggle without them. I had thought about attack bikes instead but they feel like easy kills for my opponent and are one-shot wonders most of the time.

I've already mentioned that swapping out the tactical squad would be an option. It's a shame the flyer isn't better as I'd try to squeeze it in if it was even half decent.

There are probably too many points sunk into the command squad but for how crucial they are to the battle plan it seems daft not to give them the apothecary. Granted the champion isn't necessary but he isn't bad in combat thanks to WS5 it's just a shame his sword is unwieldy. Essentially those 5pts are so I can take a cool model!

Grenade launchers are a bit of an unknown at the moment. Part of me thinks it's best to have 2 per black knight squad so that you can keep at least one alive most of the time but I also think it might be better to have the plasma talons. I'd certainly want one launcher per unit but not really sure about the second. Being able to hit a unit with rad and stasis before charging in appeals though.

Generally, apart from swapping the tacticals for more bikers, I don't think there's much more optimising to be done with this list. As a side note, I do think the existence of the bolter banner is a bit of a shame. It makes what could be a fast and deadly bike army into a blob that just moves a little bit to keep it's cover save. Not much fun really.


  1. Looks brutal pal. Couple of thoughts. Why not use the 5pts on the so-so champion for an auspex instead? I noticed I dropped the attack bikes too. Also, regarding the bolter banner, why not try a game without it and sub in another attack squad for the banner and tac squad? Would give you an idea as to whether it's essential to maximise the list or whether it's something or a handicap to the play style you want.

  2. I've found the attack bikes very usefull. For 45 points you get an outflanking very fast troops choice. I stick them in reserve, they come in too late hopefully to give away first blood and try to slag a vehicle. Against all infantry armies they tend to hide (easy because they are small) and go for late objective snatches.

    They are not all things to all men but usefull I find.

  3. Firstly, let me apologise for this being a really long post – but I wanted to get my point across as clearly as possible, and provide justifications where necessary. Also, these thoughts are not pulled out of the air; I played a really close, enjoyable and competitive game at 2k against a pure Ravenwing list the weekend before last, and learned a lot.

    I really disagree with mixing special weapons.

    Yes, “eggs in one basket” is a reason against specialising weapons, but the alternative doesn't really work.

    Say you come up against a land raider, or a russ maybe (anything with high armour that you want dead sharpish), not unthinkable at all at 1850. How do you deal with it? Do you throw one unit at it? A single meltagun only stands a 0.3886 chance (sorry to math hammer, but it's relevant here) of penetrating, so half of that to actually explode it.

    You could risk it, but the chances are low. What's the alternative? Throw 2-3 units at it? That's almost half your army, and you still don't stand particularly excellent odds of killing it, and you're also dragging a significant portion of your army out of position in the process. You also highlighted the problem of knowing when to fire your special weapons, if you’re firing your individual Melta at a tank, then you’re not firing those delicious heavy 4 twin-linked bolters at squishy things

    When you look at it like this, I think putting all your eggs in one basket is pretty much the only solution. It allows you to make a much smaller sacrifice for a much higher potential gain. Remember bikes are ridiculously manoeuvrable, especially with your scout move, so you _should_ be able to protect them reasonably well.

    Thoughts on the army in general:

    The list looks pretty light on anti-tank. The army has a ton of S7 AP2 in those plasma guns, and while it would ruin any Rhinos, it’s not really enough to start dealing with high armour. This list would really struggle with any Necron vehicles, which is a pretty big downside considering they're all the rage at the moment!

    I think the list would be much better off with 2 of those Ravenwing bike squads being double melta combi-melta. This means they can fire their bolters most of the time, then dart off and melt a tank where necessary/when the opportunity offers itself

    I agree with Anonymous above, and while I agree that single attack bikes are most definitely first blood bait, this can be mitigated against by either a) hiding them or b) Outflanking them. I don’t believe outflanking them on their own is enough, I think they’d need a comms relay to ensure they all turn up on turn 2, however your mileage may vary (and it would depend how else you get AT into the list). Having been on the receiving end of them, they’re a massive pain in the ass to deal with – there isn’t a particularly easy way to kill them without wasting shooting, they get a save against most things and are T5 with 2 wounds!

    The gentleman I played at the tournament really impressed me with the way he ran his Ravenwing command squad (with the bolter banner, naturally). He put Sammael AND an allied Black Templar Biker Marshal (the 3W one) with 2+/3++, eternal warrior and a power fist. This transformed the unit from a vulnerable buffing unit into a ridiculously resilient rock/death star that survived until the end of the game. While I’m not advocating you do the same, I would think this is something to consider with Sammael – he doesn’t really help the Black Knights all that much, but he really changes how you can use the Ravenwing command.

    One last point, what is the Librarian’s role in the army? He seems more of a nice to have rather than anything else. Divination isn’t actually that useful with Ravenwing, so what powers would he go for?

    Sorry for the obscenely long post, but I hope you can see I’ve justified everything I’ve said, and have hopefully have give you some decent advice! Apologies if I come across as “You should do everything I say”, I hope you can see that I’ve tried to justify everything, and you’re welcome to disagree!

    1. First off, don't apologise for the long post. I ramble on enough in my blog posts! Secondly, the reason I post lists up is so that there's some discussion about them. It's why I created a blog in the first place so I thank you for taking the time to comment!

      That aside, let me respond. Your counter argument to the mixed weapons thing makes sense. As I say, the difficulty is when you consider your opponent's game plan. If he has some AV13/14 vehicles (as 12 or less can be dealt with by plasma fairly easily) then his priority targets will be the melta bikes. These are likely to be near the front of the army too as they need to get into range. Can an opponent reliably kill 6 bikes in a turn? If he can't then it isn't going to be hard to beat him anyway. Plus once you kill a land raider, its occupants are likely to make a mess of your bikes. What do you then do about the second land raider if there is one? I agree they aren't all that common but its still an issue.

      That being said, you make a good point about wasting several units salvo bolters trying to take down one tank. In a game I had at the weekend my opponent was meched up and they were wasted until I destroyed a tank anyway.

      You're right about Necron vehicles. I think it would actually be better to ditch the plasma guns in the squads and leave the black knights to deal with any units that need copious AP2. Let's face it MEQ will be better dealt with by the salvo bolters anyway. I like the idea of swapping them out for meltas too. It means buying some meltas and remodelling but that's why I pinned them! By taking two of these squads it's more baskets for those eggs.

      Attack bikes are another tricky decision. If you can avoid First Blood as you mentioned, they are definitely worth taking. If they do decide to take them down chances are they'll be wasting shots on them rather than killing something which is ultimately more threatening. I'll try and squeeze one in somewhere I think.

      On the subject of Sammael and the command squad. The problem I have with putting Sammael with them is that he's essentially just reduced to a tank for them. This means wasting his not insubstantial combat skills. Not to mention you're sinking points into an essentially static unit. The alternative is to keep him in there and use them aggressively but that's an easy way to get your banner taken out. It isn't too difficult to hide 3 bikes and still keep 6" range most of the time. They aren't an offensive unit and to use expensive characters to improve their resilience already puts you on the back foot.

      Sammael can protect them better by being a distraction. It's not so much a case of him helping the black knights but he works well with them and together there aren't many things they can't deal with. This means they have to be killed quickly and hence the banner gets ignored.

      The librarian doesn't take Divination. As I say above, he takes Telepathy which I think is an often overlooked discipline. This allows him to use Invisibility or Hallucination which are both excellent. Puppet Master can also be good for using enemy anti-air and against enemy flyers. He isn't awful in combat and force weapons are always handy.

      I hope you see this to respond again.

    2. I agree with dropping the plasma. After posting yesterday I had a think and realised that the list had a ridiculous amount of plasma (I think a full third of the models in the list?) but the 3 meltaguns were your only heavy anti tank.

      Swapping out the plasma's on the bikes is a much better shout - the black knights do it much better (and overheat much less, which is important with a small model count army). Dropping the plasma to melta means you can put 2 meltas in all the Ravenwing attack squads.

      That addresses the melta/plasma balance, and also gives you options with combat squadding (3 bikes with 2 meltas - I think they can do this? I don't have a DA book to hand).

      The question of where to put Sammael is an interesting one. One thing to remember, (and a mistake i've seen quite a few people make) is that he doesn't have to stay stuck in one role. I do think that early game he needs to make sure that the command squad stays alive, but come turn 3 onwards (or whenever you deem the big threats to the squad neutralised), he can start looking into flying off and doing his own thing - he has the speed to be able to do this.

      Putting Sammael with the Black Knights just makes them too scary and "death starry" for my taste - I prefer to diversify the threats. Playing against Dark Angels this was one thing that really scared me - they scouted 12" and moved 12", and suddenly turn 1 they're staring down my neck and I want a lot of different units dead, pronto!

      We can debate the "where to put Sammael" question all we want, but I do think that question better answered by play testing however! It's an option to bear in mind however.

      If you're looking for points for the list, the librarian would be the first place I'd look. The main issue I have with him is he doesn't really fill any gaps in the list. Psychic shriek is nice, but you have AP2 in spades in the black knights (albeit not ignoring cover - maybe add auspexes?) and some of the other powers are quite nasty, but these powers don't really do anything the rest of the list doesn't otherwise. I think the points might be better invested in 2 multi melta attack bikes.

      One other thing I'd be tempted to try (this is just me musing crazy ideas now) is forgetting having a backfield unit altogether and swapping the tacs for another squad of bikes. If you combat squad the bikes I'm sure you'll have loads of units of 1 or 2 bikes left at the end of the game to zip off and capture objectives in the midfield. It would be fun for sure, would probably cause a lot of carnage (All the bolters!). I imagine it would be a challenge to pull off, but I'd be interested to see the result!

    3. There's a point with any list when you can optimise it completely and I always think that's the point when I cease to be interested in using it. Yes the librarian isn't "optimal" but frankly I think he makes the army more interesting to use.

      I decided a while ago that I was never going to try to win a tournament. I don't have it in me to play the way that winning requires. I like to enjoy 40K. If I wanted to win out right I'd play Necrons and have little or no fun doing it.

      Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a discussion about army lists but with this list in particular I'm loathe to "optimise" it any further. The main reason I don't want to lose the tactical squad is because I don't really want to buy any more bikes. I'm borrowing the second squad of black knights as it is. I could probably cobble an attack bike or two together mind you.

      I'm not saying I'm not grateful for the advice but for this list and this tournament (Blog Wars 5) I'm probably going to stick fairly closely to what I've got.

      Having said that, I will try out the suggestions you've given and see how good a list it is. Merely as an experiment to help me understand the army better but at the end of the day it still needs to be fun!

    4. That is fair enough, I think the main issue was the imbalance between plasma and melta in the posted list, which is an imbalance that I think has been solved (through the meltaguns in RAS and MM attack bike suggestions above) - that is the sort of issue that could have led you to have rubbish games that you couldn't win before you've even started, which is a really poor situation to be in!

      I've got no problem with people playing sub-optimal lists, as long as they're aware that they're sub-optimal that's fine. List building is actually one of my favourite things to do in 40k (obviously short of playing - but most people only get to do that once a week!) and I do hate it when people start playing a game, and only once the game has started realise that they haven't got the tools for the job, and that it's unlikely that they can win this game. This situation is a bit of a waste, as if you only play one game a week, that week seems wasted!

      This links into the way I play 40k - I'm a pretty competitive person (this isn't to say I'm a WAAC type, I don't play in the way that winning tournaments requires, I actually kind of dislike that sort of play), and my absolutely favourite type of game to play is where I'm playing against an equally matched opponent, so it's just tactics and dice between who wins and who loses - at the tournament I went to the weekend before last, it just so happened that that game was against a Ravenwing player - and even though I lost (it was still 6-8 kill points, so it was close!) It was easily my favourite game of the weekend (even though I won my other 4 games).

      Anyways, I'm getting off track - I would try and playtest that finalised list a bit, experimenting with where to put Sammael & the Librarian with respect to the command squad, and how/when to combat squad the bikers! It looks like it'll be a fun list to play regardless, and will most certainly cause carnage on the table!


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